I will wait till April to remember 1916

I will wait till April to remember 1916

This weekend the Irish state remembered the men, women and children of 1916 and the Easter rising in a number of state occasions, the highlight of which was a parade down O’Connell St and wreath laying ceremonies across the country. I decided a long time ago that I would wait to commemorate 1916 on the correct anniversary, the weekend of April 23/24th 2016 rather than at Easter. I can see the governments thinking behind holding the events at Easter rather than on the real anniversary but it is flawed thinking. So what if this past weekend was a 3 day weekend anyway, it was not the centenary of an event that took place in April, it was a cop out by the government.

Wreath Laying outside the GPO in Dublin. Photo by Cpl Neville Coughlan Irish Defence Forces

Regardless of this and me not being particularly happy with it, it still doesn’t stop me being proud to be Irish and of the events that did take place over this past Easter weekend. My ex colleagues in the Irish Defence Forces done themselves and the country proud. I think I have watched every video, looked at every photo gallery and to see faces I knew in the parade was great. It was a goal of mine to photograph the centenary parade for Reveille Magazine, but my personal life and changed circumstances meant I now live in the USA and am happy I missed out on the parade as I am living a different and happy life here.

Composite Front Cover of Ireland's Military Story and Irish Proclamation

Before I left Ireland I was working with my friend on a Military History Magazine for Ireland. He was the editor and I was the photographer/picture editor and together we brought an idea to fruition and got it published and we are now on Issue 5 with a special 1916 issue also published. It’s available to purchase across Ireland and UK but can also be subscribed to for anyone living overseas. Just go to http://www.irelandsmilitarystory.ie/subscribe and follow the information to get your copy delivered to your door every 3 months.

Ok less of the advertising, I have stated before that I lived within a stones throw of Kilmainham Gaol and went to school in St Michaels CBS which back in 1916 was called Richmond Barracks. Well both of those locations had important roles to play in 1916 and again this weekend. The leaders of 1916 were held in Richmond Barracks before bring brought to Kilmainham Gaol for execution. Living in such an historic part of Dublin gives you a certain outlook on the events of 1916 as it was there that the Rising and it’s leaders met their end, courtesy of the British government.

Cadets Reverse Arms as a Wreath lies in the area were the leaders of 1916 Rising were executed. Photo by Irish Defence Forces

I hope to have a more comprehensive write up about the 1916 Rising on the weekend of April 23/24th and I may even ask a guest writer to pen a small history and fact based article to compliment my own blog post on the events of April 1916.

Presidents Day and other holidays

I have been here three months now and have been able to see how the USA celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year as well as lesser observed holidays like Martin Luther King day and today’s holiday, Presidents Day.

Thanksgiving is definitely the biggest family occasion with Christmas coming in a close second. The traditions of Thanksgiving seem to get passed from generation to generation while Christmas, even though will still hold family traditions, new ones are made as families grow up and spread their wings throughout the USA. This is just a simple observation from myself, a newcomer to the whole Thanksgiving holiday as we don’t celebrate it in Ireland.

Anyway, back to today’s holiday, one that is observed by Federal government and their employees. So schools are closed, federal offices are closed but private companies are all at work. This isn’t a new phenomenon to me, back when I was the Defence Forces in Ireland we had a 3 holidays that no knew else in the country received.

Presidents Day

So what is Presidents Day?  Originally it was supposed to be a celebration for George Washington’s birthday which falls on February 22nd. In what seems a smart move by a government, in 1971 the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved nearly all holidays to a Monday to allow more 3 day weekends for workers. Off course as most employees don’t get Presidents Day off work, it’s a kinda pointless thing. But it does help for other holidays throughout the year.

US Presidents Seal

Nowadays Presidents Day is to celebrate all Presidents, not just Washington. There are four living Ex US Presidents, George HW Bush, Jimmy Carter, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, with the present President, Barack Obama, making it five. Here in Atlanta, the city has the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum so maybe Presidents Day is a good day to visit, or definitely soon after. It is on my to do list in the summer when my son comes to visit.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

USA Holidays

I am looking forward to celebrating some more US holidays like July 4th but for me March 17th and St Patrick’s Day will be my big holiday. I am also interested to see how US citizens celebrate Easter, is it all about Easter Eggs, or is there a religious aspect to the whole time around Easter.

Pancake/Shrove Tuesday

Today is Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday as it was known at home until the Pancake name took over. Today marks the first day before Lent, which as a child meant giving up something, normally sweets (candy) until Easter. Luckily in Ireland we had St Patrick’s Day which allowed us one day to have those illicit sweets.


Pancakes were never my favourite, but as we only had them once a year and it would be the last sweet thing for 4-5 weeks they were relished. Butter, jam, syrup or just plain sugar were nearly always the topping of choice. The challenge was to have more than a couple and to be completely stuffed, the joys of childhood. Nowadays I can either have or not have and normally the choice is not to have.

Today marks the signal that Easter is only 40 odd days away and the collection of Easter eggs, and who doesn’t love to overdose on chocolate as a child, or adult even though you know its not good for you.

Flipping Pancakes

This will be my first Pancake Tuesday in the USA, and I more than likely wont have pancakes. but instead I will be making a nice Irish dish for myself and Leanne, a nice Shepard’s Pie. As it is very cold and little flurries of snow are falling a pie will hit the spot a lot better that a pancake or two. I am looking forward to Easter and to make new traditions with Leanne, some USA and Irish ones combined.

In the few short months I have been here we have celebrated Thanksgiving, our wedding, Christmas and New year together, and soon we will have our second Valentines Day together, as last year I was here on a visit, followed by St Patrick’s day which will bring back memories of the day we met back in 2001. This will be our first St Patrick’s day together since we met 15 years ago.